Home Insurance Questions & Answers
About Home Insurance
Unlike car owners– who must by law have car insurance to cover their civil liability, house and condo owners aren’t legally required to have home insurance. However, it may be a requirement in certain situations. For example:
If you want to take out a mortgage to pay for your home, your financial institution may require you to have home insurance. This helps protect the value of the home and the security of their loan in case of something unexpected, like a fire.
Condo or co-op units
If you’re buying a condo or co-op unit, your board may require that you have insurance. You’ll need to double-check with your board, as each is different.
If you’re buying a condo or co-op unit, your co-owners association may require that you have insurance. You’ll need to double-check with your co-owners association, as each is different.
Whatever your living situation may be, we strongly recommend that you do get insurance because it not only protects your home and the contents insideyour personal belongings, it also gives you liability coverage in case you accidentally injure someone or damage someone’s property anywhere in the world. Let’s say you accidentally cause a fire at a hotel you’re staying at and it causes major damage. The Liability section of your home insurance policy has you covered up to the amount of your insurance coverage.
Although there’s no law about having tenants insurance, there sure are a lot of compelling reasons. So many unexpected things can happen, like a fire or a break-in. If either of these happened, it could cost you thousands to replace your belongings, things like furniture, electronics, appliances, bedding, and clothes. Your tenants insurance would cover these things, and the cost of temporary accommodation if you need to move out when repairs are being done. What’s more, if you accidentally injure someone or damage another person’s property anywhere in the world, your liability coverage will protect you, up to the amount of your insurance coverage.
Yes. It’s important to let us know before you begin renovations because we may need to revise the value of your home. You’ll need to have enough insurance coverage to cover the value of your home, or the cost to rebuild it. You may also need extra coverage for the materials you use and for your own liability when performing renovations.
Call our 24/7 claims department at . A claims representative can guide you through the next steps and give you helpful advice. After confirming your coverage, an adjuster will help arrange for a contractor to come in to help get rid of the water, clean up the damage, and find the cause.
Here’s what we’ll ask you for when you start your claim:
- Your policy number (or a phone number if you don’t have your policy number handy)
- As many details as possible regarding the incident
- A police or fire department report (if one was made)
For equipment or appliances, documentation includes things like invoices, receipts, photos, make/model/serial numbers (or even user guides and warranties). For jewellery or art, appraisals are the best.
Yes. There are special limits for certain items, such as jewellery, furs, bicycles, collections, boats, and money... Limits are different from policy to policy. If you need to raise the amount of coverage on one of these items, you can add an endorsement to your policy or add a floater that protects something in particular. You can always adjust your insurance to make sure your coverage meets your unique needs.
A deductible is the amount that you’ve agreed to pay, when you purchased your insurance policy, in the event of a claim. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and it costs $5,000 to replace your property after a break-in, your insurance company would pay $4,500 after confirming your coverage and you would pay $500. You’ll generally need to pay the deductible every time you make a claim.
Your homeowners insurance policy covers your personal property and your liability. It also covers the same things for your spouse and your children under the age of 21, whether they live with you or are away from home for school. It’s a good idea to keep your policy up to date with the value of the belongings of everyone on the policy.
Yes. Any personal property you take with you while you’re temporarily away from home are covered by your home insurance policy. Keep in mind that there are some exceptions, so please have a look at your policy or talk with one of our certifiedlicensed insurance agents in case you’re not sure.
Your home insurance covers your in-ground pool and hot tub, but if you have an above-ground pool, you’ll need to take add an extra coverage.
Yes, your home insurance covers both these things. Your standard insurance policy protects you in case water seeps into your home because your pool or hot tub leaks.
Guaranteed Replacement Cost coverage means that if anything happens to your home (the actual residential building) the full cost to replace it (including construction costs) will be covered. For example: if your home is insured for $150,000 and there is a fire that destroys your entire home and costs $160,000 to rebuilt it, you won't have to pay the difference out of your own pocket. We guarantee to rebuilt the home. Yes, belairdirect offers this coverage in our homeowner's insurance packages. Please speak with a licensed insurance agent to learn more about this coverage.
Guaranteed Replacement Cost coverage means that if anything happens to your home (the actual residential building) the full cost to replace it (including construction costs) will be covered. And yes, belairdirect offers this coverage in our Prestige and Prestige plus homeowners insurance packages. Speak with a certified insurance agent to learn more.
Replacement Cost is the cost of replacing something with a comparable new item or of repairing it (if it’s the less expensive option) without an amount taken away for depreciation. If repairs are being done, only new materials of the same kind and quality will be used.
Actual Cash Value is the actual value of something on the day the claim is made, not the value of it when it was new. This is calculated by taking the replacement cost then taking away an amount for depreciation, which is usually figured out by the condition of an item, its resale value, and its normal life expectancy.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you bought a brand new TV for $1,500 in 2012 and it gets stolen one year later. Calculations show that the TV was worth $1,000 when it was stolen. With Replacement Cost on your policy, you would get a new TV that’s identical or equivalent to the original. Without Replacement Cost, you would get $1,000 cash.
Your home insurance mainly covers your property and its contents. If you own a house, then your insurance will generally cover:
- The building itself
- The trees and shrubs around it
- Structures on your property, like a garage or shed
- Your own personal property, like furniture, electronics, computers, clothing, kitchenware, jewellery and art
- Additional living expenses if you need to relocate temporarily after making a claim
- The loss of any rental income after making a claim, if applicable.
However, your needs are unique, so your coverage will be too. It depends whether your property is a principal or secondary residence, a cottage or condominium, an undivided co-ownership or an apartment. If you’re insuring a condo, these will be added on:
- All areas to which the co-owners have shared access
- Any improvements you may make to your unit
You can choose to insure your home for either of these:
- Most risks that come out of unexpected situations (all risks' coverage)
- Claims that come from risks included in your policy (Named Perilsdesignated risks overage)
You can always customize your policy to get the right amount of insurance for your unique needs, like adding specific insurance for a special piece of jewellery or work of art.
Most home insurance policies also give you Liability coverage, which protects you if you accidentally injure someone or damage someone’s property, anywhere in the world.
We strongly recommend that you keep an inventory of all your personal property to save yourself a ton of time, hassle and heartache if you ever need to make a claim. Keep your inventory up to date and tucked away in a safe place outside of your home, like in a safety deposit box, along with your invoices, receipts, appraisals, photos, videos, make/model/serial numbers (or even user guides and warranties). We suggest that you go from room to room and describe everything in as much detail as possible. We can help you get started with our downloadable Personal Property Inventory Form.
We strongly recommend that you have tenants insurance to protect your personal property, including your furniture, electronics, computers, clothing, kitchenware, bicycles, jewellery and works of art. It also covers your additional living expenses if you ever need to relocate temporarily and eat your meals away from home following a claim.
Your insurance also gives you liability coverage in case you accidentally hurt someone or damage someone’s property anywhere in the world. For example, if someone hurts themselves in your apartment or if you accidentally damaged the building you live in or a hotel you’re staying in, you’re covered, up to the amount of your insurance coverage.
At belairdirect, we consider everything it would take to rebuild your home entirely identical to the way it is right now. This includes the ground area covered by the building, the number of storeys, the existence of a garage, whether the basement is finished or not, and the year the house was built. When you choose your home insurance, you give us all the information we need to make these calculations. Please keep in mind that this isn’t a reflection of the market value of your home, or how much you could sell your house for.
Does my home insurance cover any additional expenses I have if I need to move out temporarily while repairs are being done after I make a claim?
Yes, according to the terms, conditions and limitations of your policy. If you make a claim that’s covered by your home insurance and you need to move out and get your meals somewhere other than your home, you’re covered for any additional living expenses you face, compared to what you would normally have spent living in your home.
For example, let’s say you have major water damage to your home. You need to stay in a hotel for a month and eat your meals there while repairs are being made to your home. The total bill is $5,000.
If the cost of your living expenses (e.g., meals, rent) for an equivalent period would normally have been $2,000, you would be compensated for the extra cost, in other words, $3,000.
- Your living expenses for one month during repairs — $5,000
- Your living expenses for one month under normal circumstances — $2,000
- Your claim payment for additional living expenses — $3,000
I paid $1,200 for a new laptop computer in 2009. If it were stolen today, would I get $1,200 back from insurance?
It depends whether or not you have Replacement Cost coverage. Here’s the breakdown:
With Replacement Cost coverage:
You’ll get the lesser amount that comes out of the two scenarios below:
1. If your laptop is found but is damaged, the repairs are covered with no deduction for depreciation.
2. You’ll get compensated the value of a new laptop, identical or equivalent to the original, and the same type and quality.
Without Replacement Cost coverage:
You’ll get the actual cash value of the laptop on the day it was stolen. This amount is based on how much the laptop is worth minus depreciation, which is calculated by looking at the condition of it, its resale value, and its normal life expectancy.
Yes. If you have a fuel oil leak or an overflow of a central heating system caused by a pipe or tank, your home insurance covers the damage.
No. You need to take out extra coverage for fuel oil leaks or the overflow of a central heating system caused by a pipe or tank.
No. A flood is considered an exceptional and catastrophic event and because of that, it can’t be covered by home insurance.
Yes, only if your policy includes coverage for Overland Water losses.
Yes. It covers some, but not all, kinds of water damage. In general, your home insurance will cover sudden, accidental and unforeseen water damage, depending on the cause. Keep in mind there will always be some exclusions when it comes to causes. It’s a good idea to pay close attention to the exclusions when you’re looking at your insurance policy. Please speak with one of our certifiedlicensed insurance agents to better understand your home insurance coverage.
Yes, there is coverage for certain types of water damage losses. It is best to check your policy documents to confirm what types of water damage losses you are covered for as it may differ based on your needs and what you have chosen.
Do I need to tell you about a previous policy that was cancelled by another insurance company? Will this affect my premium?
Yes. If you had an insurance policy cancelled for any reason during the past fivethree years, you need to let your us know. This may affect your premium and our decision to insure you.
About Climate changes
Leaves can clog gutters and prevent rain from draining properly. Gutters can then become rusted if you allow the leaves to sit there for an extended period of time.
Install a gutter guard to prevent debris from entering, and clean gutters on a regular basis especially in the fall. Plus, don't forget to check for rust.
- Shovel snow regularly, especially if it's more than 1 inch.
- Keep balcony exits clear, in case of fire.
- Don't allow snow to accumulate on patio furniture.
When your roof is inspected, key items to look for are damaged, missing or torn shingles. Check for signs of moisture, rot or mold. Everyday exposure to sun, rain and wind can cause your roof to age.
Call in a professional to inspect and fix problem areas before the next rain or winter storm wreaks havoc on your roof.
I am planning to go away for the holidays, what can I do to protect my condo from damage while I'm gone?
Turn off the water main valve when you leave for a week or more. Turning your thermostat down will save you money on heating bills, but if the weather is cold outside, it could lead to frozen pipes and water damage.
Also, before leaving, unplug appliances and ask a friend to check on your condo daily to ensure there is no water damage, and to clear snow off of the balcony, etc.
Make sure you check the terms and conditions of your policy.
While we still encourage you to take these steps, you are no longer required to have someone check your home, or shut off your water supply and drain your pipes, or have a monitored alarm system in place during the heating season. All you need to do is keep the heating on while you’re away.
Check the terms and conditions of your policy to ensure that you have adequate coverage.
I am a student renting an apartment, but I go back home during the holidays. What should I do before leaving?
Before leaving, unplug appliances.
Turning your thermostat down will save you money on heating bills but if the weather is cold outside, it could lead to frozen pipes and water damage to your walls and belongings.
When you're gone, have a friend check on your apartment daily to ensure there is no water damage, and ask them to clear snow from the balcony, etc.
Make sure you check the terms and conditions of your policy.
You may find gaps in your windows from cracked glass, rotting frames or deteriorated caulking. Accumulated water, even in small amounts, can cause mold and warping if not dried promptly and properly.
Seal air leaks with caulking/weather stripping to prevent water from seeping in during severe rainstorms. Seal air leaks with caulking/weather stripping to prevent water from seeping in during severe rainstorms. If you are a tenant, it may be time your landlord gave your windows a facelift.
On average, you should replace your hot water tank every 10 to14 years. An old tank can leak and cause significant water damage.
Since 1996, most water heaters are marked with the year of manufacture. If your water heater is rented, check with your provider.
Here are some tips to stay ahead of the game:
- Verify the age of the water heater and have it inspected regularly.
- Avoid placing belongings in close proximity to the water heater.
- Keep floor drains unobstructed.
- Find and seal any cracks in foundation walls and basement floors.
- Install a sump pump to remove excess water, if necessary.
How can I diminish damage to my personal belongings in the event of a flood, if they are stored in a basement storage area?
- Avoid storing items directly on the floor; use plastic bins.
- Keep floor drains unobstructed.
- Speak with your condo association (or landlord) to repair any cracks in foundation walls and basement floors. Make sure a sump pump is properly installed and functional, if necessary.
During major downpours, wastewater from city sewers can flow back up into your home through drainpipes – especially with aging infrastructure. This can then cause overflow in appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine, sinks, toilets, showers and laundry tubs.
A properly installed backwater valve prevents sewage backup from entering water outlets in your basement or storage area during storms.